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Israeli Forces Carry Out Ground, Air Operations in Central and Southern Gaza

Written by on March 14, 2024

Israel’s military reported Thursday conducting ground operations and airstrikes in the central and southern parts of the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces said the operations included carrying out raids in Khan Younis that destroyed rocket launchers.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that Israel must make the welfare of Palestinian civilians “job No. 1” in its conduct of the war against Hamas in Gaza.

“We look to the government of Israel to make sure this is a priority. Protecting civilians, getting people the assistance they need,” he told reporters after a virtual meeting with international counterparts.

“That has to be job No. 1, even as they do what is necessary to defend the country and to deal with the threat posed by Hamas.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting with European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell at the State Department, March 13, 2025, in Washington.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during a meeting with European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell at the State Department, March 13, 2025, in Washington.

The top U.S. diplomat met via video conference with ministers from Cyprus, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the European Union and the United Nations to discuss a new maritime corridor for aid into Gaza.

“When established, this corridor will enable the distribution of up to 2 million meals every single day, as well as medicine, water and other critical humanitarian supplies,” Blinken said.

The U.S. military has dispatched a ship to the Mediterranean to build a temporary pier on the Gaza shoreline to provide passage for more aid trucks but says the dock may take two months to be completed.

On Wednesday, the United Nations’ Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA, said at least one of its staff members was killed and another 22 were injured when Israeli forces hit a food distribution center in the eastern part of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

A truck carrying humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip drives at the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom crossing, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in southern Israel, March 14, 2024.
A truck carrying humanitarian aid bound for the Gaza Strip drives at the inspection area at the Kerem Shalom crossing, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in southern Israel, March 14, 2024.

Blinken said this incident shows the imperative of having much better and consistent deconfliction with humanitarian workers.

Ciaran Donnelly, vice president of crisis response for the International Rescue Committee, told reporters in a briefing that the recent use of airdrops to deliver food “is unsafe, highly expensive, ineffective, and undignified for the people who have to scramble to receive it on the ground.”

“It is very much a last resort for aid agencies in crises around the world and should not be the first option for agencies in Gaza,” he said.

Relief efforts

A Spanish charity ship carrying more than 200 metric tons of humanitarian food aid set is on its way from Cyprus to Gaza, the latest effort to feed tens of thousands of Palestinians who the United Nations has said are starving.

The food, gathered by World Central Kitchen, the charity founded by celebrity chef Jose Andres, was on a barge being towed by a ship belonging to the Spanish aid group Open Arms and headed to an undisclosed location on the Gaza coast. The 400-kilometer voyage was expected to take two to three days after launching Tuesday.

This image from video shows a ship belonging to Spanish aid group Open Arms, background, and a barge docked at Larnaca port in Cyprus, March 11, 2024. World Central Kitchen posted on X that the ship, loaded with some 200 tons of food, set sail on March 12.

SEE ALSO:

Spanish Aid Ship Headed to Gaza to Feed Famished Palestinians

A second vessel was being loaded in Cyprus to soon make the same trip, Cypriot Foreign Minister Constantinos Kombos told state radio. Speaking later in Beirut, Kombos said, “We are working towards the safe arrival of the first shipment and then the safe distribution.”

“If all goes according to plan … we have already put in place the mechanism for a second and much bigger cargo, and then we’ll be working toward making this a more systematic exercise with increased volumes,” he said.

A man finds his way amid the rubble of the Palestinian al-Atrash family home after it was destroyed in an Israeli strike in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, March 13, 2024.
A man finds his way amid the rubble of the Palestinian al-Atrash family home after it was destroyed in an Israeli strike in Deir el-Balah in the central Gaza Strip, March 13, 2024.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reported on Wednesday that 88 more Palestinians were killed in Israel’s offensive during the past day. Since the war began in early October, the total number of Palestinians killed is at least 31,272, with another 73,000 injured, according to the ministry. It does not distinguish between civilians and combatants.

Israel began its military campaign to wipe out Hamas after Hamas fighters crossed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people taking about 250 people hostage.

State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching and White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this article. Some material in this report came from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

 

By VOA News


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